The Kenyan girlfriend of a British man has become the latest African national to be denied a visitor’s visa for the UK, much to the frustration of her partner.
Former West Sussex Fire & Rescue Firefighter Chris Philps, who now works for Sky TV, was hoping to be able to arrange a visit for his Kenyan girlfriend Chepkemoi Tallam who lives in Nakuru, Kenya.
She has worked in recruitment at Duma Works and is currently working in brand promotion for Tusker beer and other brands.
The couple have been friends since meeting on Facebook in October 2009, around this time Chris became extremely ill with pneumonia and a heart condition, gaining over 50kgs in weight.
Over the past few years they have become very close and speak to each other using Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp daily.
Chris says that without her “strength, encouragement and relentless support” he would not be here today. With Chepkemoi’s help, he has managed to lose all the weight he had gained and has almost returned to full health again.
Chepkemoi herself has also endured a great deal of personal tragedy and suffering, having lost both her parents and a sister within a short time.
The couple had discussed her coming to the UK for a holiday for many years, but at that time Chris was in no fit state to travel, had been off work for over 2 years and spent much of that time in a wheelchair as his mobility was extremely poor.
By late 2017, with his health improved, Chris again began trying to plan a visit to the UK for Chepkemoi who applied for her first ever passport in preparation and was thrilled when it arrived.
Chris covered the fee and drafted a letter addressed to the Entry Control officer at the British High Commission in Nairobi in which he explained their situation and confirmed he would sponsor the entire cost of her trip to the UK. With employment to return to, he promised she would not overstay and Chepkemoi embarked on a 7 hour round trip to the British Embassy to make the application in person.
After about 10 days, she received an email informing her that a decision had been made, so once again she made the 7 hour trip to Nairobi and back, but was devastated to learn that she had been refused a visitor visa. According to the letter, there was not sufficient proof to suggest that she would return to Kenya.
“It was quite worrying for me and it also appeared to question my right to be in the UK which as a proud British citizen who has served his country with pride, it quite frankly disgusted me,” Chris told Brits in Kenya.
Shortly before Christmas 2018, Chris received a small cash windfall from the compulsory purchase of his Sky company shares after a takeover from American company Comcast, so once again the couple made a second visa application.
Chris had just got his brand new British passport, so felt confident he could at least prove that he was entitled to be in the UK himself. Once again he drafted a letter promising to sponsor the complete cost of his girlfriend’s visit and promised that she would not overstay. Chepkemoi went off to Nairobi once again, desperately hoping that this time they would be successful and she could look forward to her first ever trip abroad,
Around January 7th, she received the email saying the decision had been made, so she took the bus for another 7 hour round trip to Nairobi, but once again she was flatly refused with the same excuses. Despite Chris having applied for and received his own travel visa for Kenya, the Immigration Department claimed there was insufficient proof that she would return. Even though Chris had pledged to finance the entire trip, she was also told there were insufficient funds in her account.
“I am saddened by the British government’s arrogant approach to this matter. Kenya gained its Independence over 50 years ago and I honestly believe it is about time that we stopped treating proud Kenyan people like Second Class citizens,” Chris told us.
Chepkemoi was totally devastated by the decision and so Chris immediately began making plans to travel to Kenya.
He is hoping that he will eventually be successful in getting permission for his girlfriend to visit him at home and has written to his local MP asking for support.
Chris’ situation has echoes of the case MP Drew Hendry is supporting on behalf of his constituent, British Army soldier Denis Omondi, who is trying to organise a visa for his 14-year-old daughter to join him in the UK.
The Africa All Party Parliamentary Group (AAPPG) also held a meeting recently to discuss UK visas for African citizens amid concerns that a disproportionate amount of applications were being rejected from the continent.